Union for A Popular Movement

From dKosopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

French Major Right-wing Party founded in 2002 as a merger of the three main right-wing parties of the time, to support Chirac's presidential bid.

As the 2002 presidential election was looming with a reelection bid by Chirac, major right-wing figures - inspired by Chirac himself - decided to use the momentum to merge the three main parties of the right (RPR - gaullist ; UDF - centrist ; DL - freemarket oriented party) in one big one. The official reason was to put a brake on the unending feuding between parties that have been in power on and off together for thirty years. The non-official one was to build a party that would constitute a base of power for Chirac and his friends. A small part of the UDF under Bayrou refused to join the party but by the end of April 2002 most right-wing figures had rallied under the UMP banner.

Officially created on the 23rd of April (two days after the first round of the presidential election that saw the surprise elimination of the Socialist leader Lionel Jospin and a future run-off between Chirac and the extreme right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen), it bore the name Union pour la Majorite Presidentielle (Union for a Presidential Majority). By the time the first congress convened in November, they changed the name to Union for a Popular Movement (while keeping the acronym) if only because the name didnt make much sense anymore now that Chirac had been reelected.

The first leader of the party was Alain Juppe, former Prime Minister, then mayor of Bordeaux and Chiracs "favorite son". But after he was found guilty in the trial of one of the murky election finances issues that have been pursuing Chirac and his former aides as mayor of Paris, he resigned. Nicolas Sarkozy, France's extremly popular interior minister, was elected president of the party, in spite of his very tense relationship with Chirac, whom he openly campaigns to succeed.

The UMP is a mishmash of the very diverse currents of France's right.

  • A Gaullist current that emphasizes a strong role for the State in the economy and a bunch of very traditional views on French society such as absolute equalitarianism (refusal to acknowledge minorities as such in public policy) and social conservatism.
  • A centrist current that emphasizes strongly its attachement to te he EU and its Christian roots.
  • A libertarian current deadbent on free-market policies and a shrinkage of the French State, but more open when it comes to social issues such as gay marriage and minority rights.

Because part of the centrists stayed on their own under Francois Bayrou's direction in their own party, the fights within the party are embodied by its two main figures (now that Alain Juppe is out of the scene because of his conviction) :

  • Sarkozy, a very strong advocate for law and order policies and free-market reforms but open to social changes such as affirmative action (anathema to a large part of the French politicians and their traditional political philosophy)
  • Dominique De Villepin, chosen as Prime Minister in May after the firing of the transparent Jean-Pierre Raffarin (a former centrist chosen as a token to Chirac's allies to assuage their fears Chirac's friend were taking over the right after the party was founded), of very strong Gaullist bent (as shown in the UN two years ago)that follows a more traditional path policy-wise.

The irony is that Sarkozy, while defending options that are against what most Frenchpeople stand for, is the most popular rightist politican in France because of his energetic persona. De Villepin, cold and never elected to any office before he was chosen as Prime Minister, is not as popular but he is Chirac's new "favorite son" on whom he counts to carry his legacy and his policy choices may appeal more to Frenchpeople. Mainly though, the tension between the two wings of the party are personal, as Chirac's friends hate Sarkozy for his inclination to continuously humiliate Chirac by reminding people of his age and his failures and also what was considered his betrayal of Chirac when he supported Chirac's right-wing rival Balladur during the 1995 presidential election. His overwhelming election as president of the party tend to indicate though he will be the UMP's presidential candidate in 2007, unless Chirac runs again, which seems unlikely after the NO to the European Constitution that largely discredited him.

Personal tools